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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good colour, good white balance presets
  • Lens exhibited hardly any chromatic aberrations
  • Live view histogram
  • Ultra-compact size, light weight
  • Fast performer, good startup, shot-to-shot and write times
  • Metal body, solid feel, although average build quality
  • Controls are easy to understand
  • Very user friendly menu interfacem, nice 'double press' delete all feature
  • Interesting world time and alarm functions
  • Full manual control (but no aperture priority which would have been nice)
  • Good control over in-camera image processing algorithms
  • Automatic lens cover
  • Viewfinder has dioptre adjustment
  • Lithium-ion battery & charger


Conclusion - Cons

  • Lens / CCD combination does not perform like a 4 megapixel
  • Visible noise artifacts around detail beside smooth areas
  • Noisy lens extension and zoom motor
  • Produces 'overly contrasty' images
  • Unsophisticated bayer interpolation / sharpening algorithms
  • Sometimes underexposes image
  • Flash underexposure / blue colour cast
  • Edge positioned tripod mount
  • Average battery performance
  • Price


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Pentax Optio 430: (4 megapixel ultra-compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8
Features 7
Image quality 7
Lens / CCD combination 6
Ease of use 8
Value for money 7

The Optio 430 is simply a four megapixel verison of the Optio 330. In the upgrade from three to four megapixels you would expect notably more resolution, and while images are larger and measured resolution is slightly higher the overall advantage is far from clear. The Optio 330 was an average three megapixel performer, for the 430 the lens / image processing seem to be the limiting factors and this stops it from breaking into the real four megapixel resolution ranks.

That said there are a lot of nice features, the visual white balance selection, live histogram, good control over image processing algorithms, plenty of detailed exposure information in playback mode and a manual exposure mode (unusual in an ultra-compact). Also noteworthy is the fact that despite its diminiutive proportions the Optio 430 still takes Compact Flash cards, this ensures finding and buying storage won't be a problem.

The Optio 430's images look very nice once you've reduced them (perfect for email or the web), unfortunately at 100% zoom you really can see that this camera isn't half as sophisticated as some of the better four megapixel competition, nor is it able to produce as much resolution.

Average

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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